Updated: Mar 30, 2020
This is a bit of a personal post, in fact, its very personal. I'm a little intimidated to write it - I don't want to get any details wrong and I imagine that writing it will be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. If you don't know me personally (or don't know me well) you may not know the importance that adoption has to myself and my family.
Mom, Dad - I hope I do this story justice because it is YOU who have raised and honored and loved me (and Dylan and Jess) so unconditionally and I (we) couldn't be more grateful for you devotion, sacrifice, and love. You are directly responsible for all I've accomplished, for all I will accomplish and I hope you know (though I've tried to express this in person) my journey to find my biological parents or "bio fam" is not at all because I am looking for more - I have more in you than I could have ever imagined and could ask for. I am full of gratitude for you both - every moment of every day. I love you guys. Thank you. For everything.
The Rawls family story is one of my favorite stories to tell. If you know my parents, you know how kickass they are. Even that, is a gross understatement. They are superheroes. Plain and simple. After my parents got married, they wanted to begin a family of their own. After trying, they found out they were unable to bear their own children, but that didn't stop them from starting a family. Obviously this is my version of their story, so I can't speak to the excitement, pain and emotions they went through but you'll get a chance to see them through my awe struck lens, looking at my superheroes, seeing the incredible humans they are. So unable to have children of their own was not stopping them, next on the list, to adopt.
In '83, they adopted my older and super cool brother Dylan in San Diego and man the stories of
cute little Dylan are just too good. The little model boy, blonde OSH KOSH kid, who literally looked like the model child in photo frames when you buy them - came into my parent's lives. Filled with love and adventure, the Rawls clan grew by one. I could get into the stories of young Dylan but I'm sure there will be a time in the future to dive into that. In July of '86, the Rawls family (2 dogs, 1 child, and my parents) moved themselves across the country, closer to my Mom's family back East, settling in Maryland.
They were so full of love and joy they weren't just stopping at one, they adopted a girl named Catherine in '90, beautiful baby girl. They were over the moon in love with their growing family but unfortunately this is where the story takes a turn. [When you adopt, it takes time for the adoption to be finalized... and there is always the chance things aren't permanent.] Unfortunately for my parents and Dylan, this was the heartbreaking case. After having a baby girl for three months, Catherine's biological mother fought to take her back and succeeded. Stripped of their baby girl, my parents were crushed. Happy to have Dylan, they found comfort in their little family and decided to leave it there. I cannot imagine the heartbreak and pain they endured. (Nor do they really talk in depth about it... which I respect, but my heart aches and I never met her...) My parents didn't deserve that - though I'll admit... I'm the one who reaped the benefits.
Just shy of two years later, Janice from Adoptions Together reached out to my parents, knowing very well the pain they had gone through with Catherine, asking if they'd reconsider adopting, that there was a baby girl who was on her way and had zero chance of being adopted. After specific details (that will be disclosed in Part II) were disclosed, my Mom and Dad, agreed and excitedly (and anxiously) adopted another girl, me. I was easily the luckiest girl in the world that day and I obviously had no idea. Though my parents could never replace Catherine, it seems both my parents and Dylan seemed thrilled to have a girl in the family. I'm 90% sure I was dancing before I was doing anything else but I wasn't the only one getting the attention for long. 9 months later, my parents gave birth to Jesse, yes you read that correctly, after years of trying, they had a baby boy - they now had two children under the age of one... and if I may, my parents did a damn good job raising all of us.
"Being a parent wasn't just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life."
- Jodi Picoult
Dylan being 8.5 years older, he was the one Jess and I looked up to. We would annoy the crap out of him, but he was always a good sport about it. There are pictures from our childhood Dylan playing with us. I think one of my favorite memories of how the good ol' days were would include the following:
When we got a brand new green rolling garbage can out the house we grew up in, Dylan came up with a brilliant game. Put the youngest inside, put the top on, roll us around and then would have a guess what part of the neighborhood we were in. I'm not sure if Jess and I made Dylan get in, but I can't imagine we were able to pull him very far if we did. It was such a fun game... and I look at kids now - what a shame it is to see how this would be totally made fun of... but I plan to let it be a game when I have kids one day... it was the best!
When we got older, Dylan and the neighborhood kids would play street hockey. Much like in video games, play time with the big kids (or on the console) was earned. How might you ask? If the street hockey puck or ball went down in the sewer... I gladly stepped up to the plate would go down the manhole and would earn X minutes of hockey time. Or with N64 (or SEGA, PS1, PS2, Xbox, the 360, and computer) you get three deaths before having to pass the controller... well as a wee little Mackenzie, I didn't get to play any game for too long with those rules... eventually I got better at some, or would end up giving up, heading to dance or play off on my own doing only God knows what. By middle school, I had learned how to keep up, they play downstairs, I steal the computer and master counterstrike... which I recently rediscovered and holy moly those skills are GONE.
There is an amazing video of Jess and I on Halloween - I'm a business woman, he's a witch...
(well he was supposed to be a wizard I think? but he claims he's a witch...) If I can find it, I'll be sure to add the video to this blog because its all about skittles and how Jess "needs em" I'm pretty sure Dylan makes a split second appearance (he hated cameras in this phase of his life)
<--- This is not that night, clearly but we can be our best selves with one another, ahahah he was a good sport about letting "big" sis dressing him.
These are just a few examples of the young three musketeers - and honestly apparently yesterday was #NationalSiblingDay so this post couldn't be more appropriate. I don't know exactly how old I was when my parents told me that I was adopted but if I were to guess, I was around 6 or 7 years old. This memory is vivid (though I'm not entirely sure it is accurate but this is how I remember this going down.)
My Mommy and Daddy sat me down in the living room on the blue couches because they wanted to talk about something important. They preceded to tell me that I was adopted and how it meant that they took me in and loved me... well all I heard was that I wasn't actually their kid... I listened to what they said and then ran to my room and locked the door not letting anyone in as I was very upset. Obviously my parents were gentle and very patient, they didn't actually use those words but little Mackenzie didn't want to hear it. After a while, Dylan knocked on the door, "Kenz can I talk to you?" I was pouty and mad and said "NO!" Dylan as if knowing it wouldn't take much for me to cave, somehow managed to get me to open the door and let him in. And then this moment, to this day, vivid at day, said to me, "Kenz, can I tell you something? I'm adopted too. And it just means that Mom and Dad loved us so much they wanted to keep us forever." (Something along those lines, there was more...and the wording might be off but I remember him coming to set the record straight and make sure that I knew just how much Mom and Dad loved ALL three of us )
I must have been satisfied, I hopped up and continued on my day as if I knew that all along. But something I don't say enough is that it was that moment that I knew I would always have Dylan to understand and listen to my worries and questions and all that because we shared this. Big brother, high school brother, stepped out of his way... and we always got along... except when Jess and I drove him INSANE...
So in honor of my kickass and incredible family, National Sibling Day and the developing and unfolding story of adoption in the Rawls family - I am the luckiest young women out there. I have two best friends in my brothers, Dylan and Jesse. We drink, play, chill, goof off and just enjoy being around each other. Though Dylan and I both think Jesse might be too cool for us, we all stick together and I love it. I'd be lost without you guys and honestly if it were for you, I would have ZERO cool points.
I have the most amazing parents, also my best friends. In fact, my Dad and I are more alike than I think either of us wants to admit. We both are stubborn and active and his sacrifices for my passions in life don't go unnoticed. Thank you Daddy. Your work ethic, your dedication to our family, your knowledge and desire to keep learning and expanding your experiences is amazing to be around and is infectious. Mom - I know there was a point you thought you'd lose me, well now you are stuck with me calling you up to five times in a day... am I even remotely sorry about it?? Not a flipping chance... you are my idol as a women, as a mother and I hope I'm one fourth of the women you are and 1/8 of the mother. Thank you for everything.
This is just the beginning of our story... to be continued soon... and trust me... it is worth staying tuned.